The Tamil Nadu Food Safety and Drug Administration Department (Food Safety Wing) will step up inspections of restaurants and eateries in the district as part of a crackdown on unsafe food.

The drive is to eliminate food products that are harmful to health.

Those violating the norms will face stringent legal action such as filing of cases under the Food Safety and Standard Act, R. Kathiravan, Designated Officer, Tamil Nadu Food Safety and Drug Administration Department (Food Safety Wing), told The Hindu here on Sunday.

Food Safety officers took 31 samples in the past two months.

Of these, six were found unsafe, one was sub-standard, 11 were misbranded and the rest were found to have conformed to all norms. Samples were also lifted during ‘annadhanam’ at a temple festival recently. No harmful substances were detected in these samples.

Further, in a boost to these efforts, the microbiological tests have also commenced at the Government Food Analysis Laboratory here.

Microbiological tests are vital to detect growth of salmonella, a bacterium which can cause food poisoning.

Coimbatore has one of the six food analysis laboratories in Tamil Nadu that are approved under the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006.

The rest are at Chennai, Salem, Thanjavur, Tirunelveli and Madurai.

Dr. Kathiravan said that fruit shops will also come under the scanner in the next few months to prevent artificial ripening of fruits done through the use of calcium carbide. The major health hazard is the acetylene gas emitted by calcium carbide.

This targets the neurological system and reduces the oxygen supply to the brain.

While short-term effects include sleeping disorders and headaches, he said that the long term effects are memory loss, seizures, mouth ulcers, skin rashes, renal problems and possibly, even cancer.

Any one having information on artificial ripening of fruits could mail the information to dofssacbe@gmail.com. All information will be kept confidential and action taken, Dr. Kathiravan said.

More In: Coimbatore